The continuing search for author, artist & historian Baron Avro Manhattan (1914-90)
For a number of years I’ve researched the life of Baron Manhattan, who I first came across in 2012, he spent his last years living in a terraced house in my hometown of South Shields. ‘Secrets & Lies’ documentary was produced in 2018, a link is at the end of the post.
Avro was originally named Theophile Lucifer Gardini, the name change is looked at in post #2. Looking for Lucifer #5 includes extracts from diary entries and notes taken when talking to his friends and neighbours which helped script the first documentary.
Friday 12 June 2015
I asked an auld fella who was walking near the house where Avro last lived in South Shields “You didn’t know The Baron did you”? He turned as he was shutting his gate, “Yes, Avro”. I introduced myself and told him what I was doing.
Mr H told me “We regularly talked with him. He was a good talker, friendly, interesting in conversation. We think he had money in Russia, he couldn’t bring it into Britain so spent it there, Ann came back with all these fur coats and hat’s. When he died he left money to put students through college in U.S.A.”
In the photo of Avro and Anne’s wedding in November 1986 at Kensington & Chelsea Registry Office, Anne is wearing furs – are these from Russia as Mr H said ?
After checking the American college link there was a Bob Jones University in Greenville where four scholarships in history, humanities or political science were available at $2,500 paid by the Baron Avro Manhattan Trust Fund.
Wednesday 17 June 2015
Mr & Mrs M were Avro’s neighbours, they talked about how the couple loved entertaining and had champagne cocktails at their parties and barbecues.
“He was interested in what you were saying and would never try to belittle you. He wasn’t a name dropper, a gentleman through and through. He spoke good English with a little Italian accent, didn’t drink much, had a little wine, he did like the Broon Ale though” said Mr M.
Mrs M added “We think he liked it here because he could concentrate on work, go for walk’s and relax. But sadly he died in their home. We went to the funeral at St Aiden’s, there was a Princess there, she looked like Jackie Onassis, very glamourous.”
Saturday 27 June 2015
A phone call back from Mr C (who I contacted earlier in the week) he said he and his parents got to know him through various social gatherings.
“We got to know them around the 1980’s, they were an eccentric couple, she was well dressed and he always wore his suit and bow tie. We always enjoyed each other’s company, I found him very charming, charismatic and witty”.
Mr C recalls the death of Avro “He died in the passageway of the house, just dropped down with a heart attack. Although after reading some articles about his book about the underhand dealings of the Vatican I’m not sure”.
Mr C had a few calls from an Englishman living in France who was investigating Avro.
“He was very persistent, obsessed. This was after his book ‘The Vatican’s Billions’ was released, and apparently the Baron was going to release more revealing information about the Catholic Church. He was implying that there was a conspiracy against him. It was all very weird”.
Tuesday 28 July 2015
Mrs A, 91 years old, kindly gave me one of Avro’s paintings she had. The signed artwork is titled ‘Chelsea Embankment’. Mr and Mrs A knew the Manhattan’s socially. She recalls that Avro corresponded with Lord Weymouth and Ian Paisley from Northern Ireland
“He didn’t brag about it, he was fairly modest really, but he was very anti-establishment”.
In 1983 Viscount Weymouth of Longleat opened an art exhibition by Avro at the Metal Art Precinct in South Shields, Ian Paisley and Avro had their photograph taken after discussing ‘Terror in Ireland’ authored by Manhattan in 1970.
Sadly Mrs A was at the Manhattan’s house the night he died, 26 November 1990, and added that sometime before this Avro had a stroke. “It’s like being imprisoned in your own body” he told her.
If you have information about Italian born artist & author Baron Avro Manhattan (1914-90) please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Link to film:
Check the other posts about Baron Avro Manhattan :
Alikivi April 2021 & update April 2022